The Economist provides an unrivaled summary of the geopolitical consequences of the British partition of India. Positioning Muslim majorities on both sides of India effectively sought to keep New Delhi in a perpetual state of siege. Only Northern Ireland & Israel proper resemble the politics of partition at the end of the Second World War. Given how the British panicked at the dissolution of Empire and the destruction of Pound sterling, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Kashmir remains a tinderbox.
It remains difficult for anyone to tie the contemporary geopolitical mix of Kashmir to the partitioning of India. Diachronically it is correct, but Kashmir, Northern Ireland and Israel have indigenous political dynamics that no longer possess any resemblance to Empire or 1947. Kashmir continues to be saddled with a destructive historicism, as if Islamabad has no role in fomenting disruption. As it stands today, Kashmir remains a relief valve that the Pakistani Army uses to its advantage. Fix the opacity animating Pakistani civil-military relations and you no longer have Kashmir as a problem.
Let’s not forget, Pakistan isn’t a country, its an army with a country. As realists like Thucyddies have taught for centuries, the nature of regime matters.
What happened in Kashmir when Modi sought demonetization?
Rock throwing Kashmiri youths went home because Peshawar’s counter-fitting stoped. The regime in Islamabad pays Kashmiri “liberators” (azaadi) nearly $8 per projectile. The Pakistani military establishment (the Punjabi’s that arrogate to themselves to rule “the Land of the Pure“) don’t live in a free society with robust free markets, free press and a vibrant civil society. Given how exhausted contemporary Palestinians are from their conflict with Jerusalem, Kashmir may be the only place to witness deliberately manufactured violence.
Modi’s governing majority in New Delhi has sought to administer Kashmir by a coalition between the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Kashmiri’s People’s Democratic Party. This interrupts the Pakistani agenda of disruption and violence.
By any measure, the crisis of Kashmir requires a political settlement, but this cannot occur until Pakistani leadership understands the limits of its writ in Kashmir. Until then, India, Washington & Islamabad are tied into a gordian knot.